Sunday, May 29, 2011

Highs, lows, back up, down and up again

When I came back from my South Africa trip last August, it was my goal to really take my writing seriously to the point of making it reality. No more dreaming, no more talk...straight up action. That meant writing everyday; attending conferences; but most importantly, entering contests and submitting manuscripts. It's the only way I'll ever get published. And the scariest part of writing...possible (and most likely) rejection.

I submitted to my first contest this year in February for the WOW (Women on Writing) Ezine Winter 2011 Flash Fiction Contest. The piece had to be a minimum of 250 words and maximum 750 words on any topic. Only the first 300 submissions would be accepted. Elaine Spencer, Literary Agent with Knight Agency would be the final judge. And who knew, maybe she'd love my piece SO much that she'd write me personally wanting to see more of my work and then sign me on (a girl can dream, right?). I submitted Hit (read my May 29 post "Hit" here). Let the worry and wringing hands begin.

I received an email on March 26 that I made the first cut and beat out 200 other submissions. Woo-hoo! In your face!!! Of course I was elated. I might just get my first real fiction writing credit. I could also win money! Something to finally offset all these writing expenses I've accumulated (credit card debt anyone?).

Every time I received an email from WOW, my heart skipped a beat. Then it deflated when it was just a workshop advertisement. Knowing that the final judging should be done around April 30, once May arrived and no "You won!" email arrived I was pretty much without any hope. But then I argued with myself that maybe the voting was delayed, maybe there was still a chance. I'd peruse the website for any mention of winners, with no luck...just a statement to check back in May, even though it already was May.

Deep down I knew I'd lost. They would have contacted me by now if I was in the top twenty for my bio and picture. And then one Sunday when I innocently surfed the site, the winners were listed. All twenty. None were my name. Oh yeah, and on the same day I also found out that I'd lost the Carteret Writers 20th Annual Writing Contest. Talk about hitting a low.

Today, a week or so later, I received a critique from one of the round table judges. It was $10 to enter the contest and an additional $10 for the critique. I hesitated opening the email, afraid of what some stranger thought about my story. I was provided a score (1-5, 5 being the highest) in four categories. My scoring was as follows:

Subject: 5
Content: 5
Technical: 5

I'm perfect! Was I reading this right? Yup, that's right, I'm perfect! But if my work is so darn good, then why wasn't I in the top 20? Then I realized that this was just ONE judges point of view. Maybe every other judge thought my piece sucked (see how quickly I can take great news and turn it into a pity fest).

You may have noticed that the above is only 3 out of 4 categories. Under "Overview", a score was not received but rather the following comment:

I really enjoyed your story. You did a good job of subtly infusing the word “hit” into your story, but it has a big impact. I also like the way the story starts with her revelation and slowly disintegrates, finally ending with denigration and hypocrisy. You wove a lot of elements into a short story—nice job. Thanks for sharing!

Okay, so I didn't win in the top twenty. But I DID beat out 200 other submissions. That deserves a pat on the back. And at least one judge enjoyed my story and thought it was "perfect". Hopefully I can ride this high for more than just a few minutes.

On to the next WOW contest, due May 31...wish me luck!


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